Goethe: “One only sees what one looks for, one only looks for what one knows.”
There are rules for everything, but what are the rules of winds? John 3:8, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth.”
What Are Winds?
Winds are strong or gentle, calm or stormy, contrary or favorable. There are winds of change, ill winds, and winds of doctrine.
Now some of the winds of doctrine I’ve seen are: Creation (five or six theories, plus two or more ways of evolution); Music styles; Hebrew names; Angels cohabiting or Seed of Satan (Genesis 6); Jewish roots; Calendars; Women’s role or position in the Church. Even the rapture is back in vogue, as are Sabbath times — i.e., back to dawn, midnight, or Sunday. Some winds may even have elements of truth.
We could loosely define “winds” as doctrines contrary to what you have been taught, or to sound doctrine. A big wind may blow in from Winnetka or parts unknown, but once it gets through the cracks it opens the door for other doctrines, which will certainly follow. Winds at a certain level are comforting; at a higher level they become irritating; and high winds can be very damaging.
I’ve been agonizing for months, first over individual “winds” that began to buffet our small group. I even prayed out loud for God to stop the winds. A well-intentioned prayer; surely, but not well-thought out. Ephesians 4:14 clearly shows that though the winds blow “. . . we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine . . . .” God’s will is not to stop the wind, but for us to stop being windblown. Easier said than done.
Then I began to think, there is sound doctrine, like the resurrection. And there are winds, like the number of resurrections. The resurrection is fact. The number will never be agreed upon and is a “wind.” Then how is it, Joe Mystic comes up with a revelation. Tom Ear-itcher is all ears. Joe feels the need to be noticed and Tom has itching ears. Tom likes to let Joe stick that Q-tip in his ear and scratch till it almost hurts, and so they fulfill each other’s need. God will not stop wind. Ask Him instead for shelter, roots, strength, and wisdom.
Radiant Health by Brian Peskin is a good book on physiology, and I was struck with the similarities to the study of theology. Quotes from the book are interlaced in this article and may apply to most any wind of doctrine. “Words convey more certainty than the data.” “Careless language turns preliminary findings into facts.” “Bad advice associated with credible sources gets transformed into popular wisdom.”
Paul Meier, Journal of American Statistics Association, in the article “Damned Liars and Expert Witnesses,” said, “The point is to get it right, not to win the case, not to sweep under the rug all the assorted puzzles and inconsistencies that frequently occur in collections of data.” Data can be concealed deliberately or accidentally. Some rationalize: “I’m not responsible for what I can’t see; if I close my eyes, I can’t see.”
“We are suffering [not] from a wealth of information, but [from] a poverty of understanding what that information really means,” Brian Peskin. Accuracy is important, of course, but does it make a difference if you are off one day or one week, or a month closer if you’re still not exact? The previous two paragraphs seem to apply to the calendar issue very appropriately.
“It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is — if it disagrees with real life results (truth), it is wrong. That’s all there is to it.” Richard Feynman, professor, Nobel Prize winner.
Is it wrong to discuss winds? Not at all — within the “rules of winds.”
Rule 1. No wasting time. Matthew 12:36, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Ask yourself; is this topic worth pursuing? What will it profit? Who will it affect and how? Ron Dart is quoted as saying: “If the devil can’t get at you any other way he will waste your time.”
Rule 2. It is possible to be right and wrong simultaneously, right theologically, but wrong morally. Romans 14:15, “But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.” Let Romans be your guide. There is no indication here whether the meat is truth or error.
Rule 3. Be ye not many teachers. James 3:1, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” That word, masters, means teachers or instructors. When we speak we should not be nearly so dogmatic as we have been. Use words like “I think” or “it looks like.”
Rule 4. Have I considered the unintended consequences? What is the danger? I only remember two scriptures from my parochial schooling (perhaps that’s all we were taught). The one about the millstone scared me for a long time and still does. Matthew 18:6, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” I can destroy someone with my “meat.” That’s a scary thought and it doesn’t seem to make a difference if my “meat” is good or spoiled. Picture yourself with a millstone around your neck. Gives you a sinking feeling, doesn’t it? Notice the scripture says that would be better than what will really happen to you. Another great danger is you may have believed a lie or are deceived, and the transition from deceived to deceiver is but a step away. Witness the transition.
Deceived: II Timothy 3:1-7, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”
Transition: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
Deceiver: “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
The Book of Romans tells us what to do regarding those who persist in blowing their smoke into your face. Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
Can we assume then the disciples had all knowledge and truth perfectly, or that the doctrine that we have learned is absolute? Of course not, people then had, and now have, a wide range of ideas. We’ll address this more in the section on authority.
“The two psychic diseases of the West are hastiness and superficiality.” Alexander Sholzhenitzyn.
There’s nothing wrong with sincere questioning, or entertaining different ideas or thoughts. What makes it so diabolical is the methods, introduction, and execution. Did I say diabolical? That implies “of the devil”! That’s pretty strong language to be tossing around. I Timothy 4:1, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
Does this mean the Devil has a canon of doctrine? That would be too simple. Everyone would be able to tell and there would be no winds; just true or false. I submit Satan is the master of confusion and may use subtle, pleasing breezes, or violent storms to induce Deception, Death, Destruction, and Division.
It occurred to me it’s not ideas or winds of doctrine that are evil per se; it’s primarily improper procedure.
1. Things are not done decently and in order. I Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” We have an established doctrinal order that we brought out of our parent organization, right or wrong. S-o-o-o — what if we are wrong? Has there ever been a time when the Church was error- free? Change is often more likely to bring problems, and especially division, than tolerating current conditions with its few irregularities and errors. Perhaps this is a test of love vs. exhibiting your own knowledge or having it your way. Read the following carefully. I Corinthians 13:8-13, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Pride could be the enemy here.
2. There is an error in the Motive, Method, or the Message. Examine the 3 M’s for possible hidden agendas. A proposal is being made for organizations to restrain doctrinal dissertation. It occurred to me that if we are not permitted to speak or publish our doctrines that leaves the field open to those self-styled prophets and teachers to interject their ideas, and they do, and they will! The motive and wisdom for this idea is therefore highly suspect.
Check the fruits for a quick test: Is it from the Holy Spirit, or Satan? Does it produce Unity, or Division? Does it lead to Joy, or Sorrow; Peace, or Strife?
One professor said to his students: “Fifty percent of what you will learn in this class is false; it is up to you to find out which fifty percent.” Dr. William Siebert, MIT professor, said: “You think just because something is published, it’s true? Most of what is published is entirely wrong.” His approach is: A. Does the reasoning of the author make fundamental sense? B. Do the authors understand probability and statistics well enough to correctly interpret their own results? C. Who funded (developed) the study and what results would they like to see? D. Is the initial criterion of the study fair and unbiased? E. Are there inconsistencies in test results? F. Is there accounting for all significant factors? G. Are there portions of the results that I may not be told about which would change my opinion of the conclusion?
Leonardo Da Vinci: “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
Winds of doctrine can divide and separate. Ideologies can produce two outcomes — one is like: I think the moon is made of blue cheese and you think it’s buttermilk. It could provoke heated debate, and if we felt deeply enough about it, we could separate. The other divides automatically: If I keep one day and you keep another we are separated in a physical way.
I live in the fourth-windiest state; Iowa. It’s hard to fight the wind. Sometimes you just plant your feet and lean into it (you could grow deep roots and stay planted). Maybe you need to be wise and shelter yourself, or be flexible. One thing for sure, God is your defense, your shield, and help.
Here are some scriptural principles to guide us:
A. Romans 14:15, “But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat . . . .” Notice: it doesn’t seem to make any difference if your “meat” is good or bad, correct or incorrect, in this scripture. We have little control of wind. The wind is in control of the one blowing so he should control himself (or herself).
B. I Corinthians 1:10, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” How can this be possible? If we all speak to each other on things that are just and pure and holy, then we speak of nothing that causes divisions!! And there is more than enough of that to speak on!
Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” We must be the most negative bunch of ninnies around, because we would rather argue the details than rejoice in the fabulous blessings we have. We need to work on perfecting ourselves rather than others or their doctrines.
C. Philippians 4:9, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” I think Paul had sound doctrine. “Sound doctrine” or “sound speech” are phrases you need to research. What is sound doctrine? The book of Titus gives us one example. Titus 1:9-14, “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”
Now, today, we wouldn’t even give circumcision a second thought one way or another, but back then it was a major issue. Note the two other winds — Jewish fables and commandments of men; they could be modern issues.
Now I want you to notice what Paul calls sound doctrine. Titus 2:1-8, “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” Go back and read it again and notice all the doctrines that are not mentioned that seem of such great importance to some today. Do you feel a tinge of shame yet?
D. John 16:12-13, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” We can deduce that the Spirit of truth is not yet come. Is it all summed up in this? While Paul may have had a great grasp of sound doctrine, it is clear the Churches and individuals, then and now, were buffeted by the winds; and I don’t see the Spirit of truth in any of the winds! I can tell by the lack of fruits.
E. Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” This is most difficult. It is not that everything you learned is perfect, although, as I look back thirty years, there was really insignificant error. The real evil is “them which cause division and offences”! Remember the Alamo, Remember Pearl Harbor, Remember the Maine, and Remember the Millstone! Again, it’s the doctrine you have learned and proven and lived by that has led you to repentance and a life in Christ. Read Romans 16:17 again. Now do what it says.
“Let God strike him who does not know, and yet presumes to show others the way to the doors of His kingdom.” An old Persian Proverb.
We have traded a problem primarily inherent in large groups (corruption of power) for a problem inherent to small groups (anarchy). Quite frankly the large Churches of God (while I may have a few differences with their hierarchical structure and aims and goals) seem to be doing a lot of good work reminiscent of the early Worldwide Church of God. I’m not in the business of badmouthing. Galatians 5:15, “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”
Remember the focus here is on the problem of the small Churches. Read for yourself Judges 17:6; Deuteronomy 12:8; Proverbs 12:15; and Proverbs 21:2. The phrase “right in his own eyes” is used in a negative context every time. Every man doing right in his own eyes is anarchy. Now contrast that with “right in God’s sight.” Do your own search.
James 3:1, “My brethren, be not many masters [teachers, instructors], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” Some Johnny-come-latelys and even a few old heads are theologians or wanna-be’s. We’ve forgotten the role of a minister, elder, deacon, or whatever label you would use. Many want to be masters (teachers).
There are some who rightly assume that role and have the responsibility to promote sound doctrine. I Peter 5:1-9, “The elders [note plural] which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
What’s wrong with councils or counsel? Should you submit your idea to a council? It would probably never be considered? So-o-o! Maybe your idea is bad, maybe they have better things to do, maybe you need a good dose of humility, maybe the Church can survive without your wind of doctrine. Who put me, or you, in charge? I love the old concept of the Idea Baby. Whether it’s your own, or adopted, your baby is always the cutest and you love it the most, and you feed it, and it smiles back at you, you tickle it and it smiles, and it laughs and it gives you warm fuzzies.
I Timothy 4:1-3, 6-7, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth . . . . If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.” Two winds are mentioned here. “Forbidding to marry,” I believe means those who teach that marriage is unnecessary, a serious subject. “Abstaining from meats” seems a rather trivial matter. They seem widely differentiated in importance, but both are labeled “doctrines of devils.”
If you make a decision, you’re responsible. If you follow, it’s your responsibility. If someone follows your lead, it’s your responsibility. So who is the authority or expert to establish doctrine, since there is no longer a temple or priesthood? Perhaps a council representing the Churches of God. Will that happen before the return of Christ? Not likely! So-o-o. Let’s just get on with what we should do and leave the doctrine to the Holy Spirit!
I think It can guide those who do have the authority. Ephesians 4:7-16, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He gave some, Apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” Who has the authority? It should be obvious, but if you have to ask, it’s probably not you.
“Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it.” “I never pay any attention to ‘experts’. I calculate everything myself.” Richard Feynman, professor, Nobel prize winner.
So you’ve got a great idea! Careful: — the winds are blowing! Even a dead fish will float downstream.
1. It must be thoroughly researched. Today the bumper sticker statement, t-shirt slogans and sound bite rules. That makes bad theology. And remember, “Statistics (facts) are often used to sensationalize, confuse, mislead, or oversimplify.”
2. Better to do a little well, than a lot haphazardly. No study is complete unless it includes complete consideration of reasonable opposing viewpoints. This would drastically slow down the amount of matters considered, but dramatically increase the accuracy.
3. Present decently and in order. A good indicator of bad winds, doctrine of devils, if you please, is bypassing authority by sending letters drumming up support for your pet doctrine and stirring up the troops.
4. Sometimes the horse dies. Instructions: A. dismount, B. do not resuscitate, C. Do not attempt to push it across finish line.
5. If we could just get the form right! No, it’s the substance (love), stupid. I Corinthians 13:8-13, (This is repeated due to its importance.) “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” The Pharisees were always trying to improve on, or add to, law or worship. Can’t we just humble ourselves?
6. Always remember “Down by the Old Mill Stone.” Matthew 18:6-8, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.”
“Insanity: Doing something that doesn’t work, over and over, in spite of it’s obvious failure.” Anthony Robins: “Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.”
Love covers a multitude of sins. If we’ve been working on doctrine for thousands of years and haven’t got it right yet, what makes us think some big wind is going to purify us? Love will cover any of the silly little errors we have (Remember I Corinthians 13).
I Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” Charity (and humility) would do more to heal the Church than all the theologians in the world.
There are three more things to bear in mind. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. How do you know it’s broke? Look out for the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Let’s sum up the problem: We don’t get the facts-all the facts. We don’t assemble them correctly. We lack wisdom, knowledge, truth, and love. We know a lot and understand little. We speak and learn in sound bites. We lack the Holy Spirit, for, if we had it, It would lead us into all truth. All this and yet we are ready to follow the Pied Piper with the magic flute. How can you tell if it’s a good wind or an ill wind — by its fruits.
— written by Steve Kieler W
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